April 30, 2012 by Frank Goley, Business Consultant
So many times do I see businesses concentrating on profit margins, without a good understanding of their cash flow. Problem with that? Well, you can be profitable, yet run out of cash and go out of business.
Whether through my consulting, coaching or planning work with companies, it is not uncommon for me to quickly spot cash flow issues. Cash Flow is probably the most important variable a business (of any type and size) should keep its eye on and manage aggressively.
Don’t Be Financially Ignorant
All too often, I see company executives, business owners and entrepreneurs who ignore, or simply don’t understand cash flow. For that matter, many leave the financials to their accountants to their peril. Now, don’t get me wrong. A good accountant is a necessity for a business, but the owner and executives of a business must have a good understanding how financials work, and how to manage their cash flow.
Moreover, I see executives and business owners who are intimidated by financials. They simply throw up their hands and say it is too complicated for them to learn and manage. Is cash flow complicated? Yes, it can be. But the concept of cash flow and cash budgets is quite simple. Cash flowing in and cash flowing out over a specific time period. That is it. Simple really, when you think about it.
Why is Cash Flow so Critical?
Well, to run and grow a business, you need cash. You need cash to seize opportunities. You need cash to pay employees. Too often, businesses have an over reliance on getting finance to help them with the cash crunch instead of properly managing their cash flow. Too often cash is looked at from the Profit and Loss standpoint of business finance and interest rates, instead of active cash flow management.
A business should know their cash flow situation on a weekly basis. Not monthly, not quarterly- weekly. And optimally daily cash flow management is highly advantageous and worthwhile. If you focus on cash flow management, you are forced as a business owner to plan. Planning a business is the ticket to success. Guessing at business and thinking cash flow will take care of itself, or having an overreliance on using business finance to overcome cash flow shortages, is the kiss of death for a business. And if you are lucky, and it isn’t the kiss of death, you are bleeding cash, extremely vulnerable, and could be a much more successful and profitable company.
Where to Start?
Put together a cash flow budget that shows where the cash is going (historical) and where the cash will go (future – projected). Then plug in your big events that you need to plan for, such as a big opportunity on the horizon to increase business. Wouldn’t it be great to have some cash to increase your business instead of going to the bank or an investor at a premium with interest and terms attached? Wouldn’t it be nice to be your own bank? Wouldn’t it be nice to put yourself in the position of renting the bank’s money, instead of the opposite? All of this is possible with good cash flow management.
Get a cash flow or money management software program. Your bookkeeper, CPA, or business consultant can recommend a good one for your business type, and they can give you the proper training to set up the software and use the software. The software will do all hard work for you and alert you as to cash flow issues before they become real problems, and be a tremendous help when you plan and manage your cash flow.
Quit Playing Roulette and Gambling with Your Business
Stop operating your business day to day, month by month. If you plan your business and manage your cash flow, then you start looking 6 months to a year and farther down the road, becoming a highly profitable, successful, and most importantly, proactive company. Stop reacting as a business owner and take real control of your business and future success. Get managing your cash flow today! You will be rewarded many times over and your stress level will decrease exponentially. Or don’t, and just be like the majority of businesses out there. Getting ready to go out of business at any minute of any day…
Disclaimer: ABC Business Consulting does not endorse any company’s products or services mentioned in this blog post.
August 6, 2010 by Frank Goley, Business Consultant
Time Management has incredible influence on a business owner’s success. I encounter clients who really need some Business Coaching to get them into position where some solid planning and other types ofbusiness consulting can be of real benefit. Otherwise, their “busyness” and lack of personal planning overshadows the efficacy of good Business Planning and Strategic Planning for the company. Get the time management right upfront, then rolling out success planning, whether a new marketing strategy or new strategic direction, can be laser focused and structured for real success.
You Are Busy But What Are The Results?
A business owner may think. Hey I am so busy and have more to do every day than I can finish. I am doing the best I can. That kind of thinking is an absolute Fallacy. The problem with this sort of thinking is two fold: 1) the business owner doesn’t know what actions or tasks have a real payoff for the company and 2) busy tasks over take the fundamentals of growing a healthy business. The way to solve this issue is to simply plan your time on a daily and weekly basis, but before doing that, you need to identify strategically what tasks are most important and why. Schedule in the tasks that have the best payoff for your company first, then build in your other “busy” tasks.
Steps to Effective Time Management
Step One: Keep track for one or two weeks exactly how you spend your day. Time and identify your specific actions and tasks for the entire day- minute by minute, hour by hour.
Step Two: Document what the payoff for your company was for the specific tasks accomplished for the tracked period of time.
Step Three: Identify and Prioritize what actions and tasks will have the best payoff for your company in relation to your Business Plan, Marketing Plan and Strategic Plan.
Step Four: Schedule out 2-4 weeks in advance how and when you will accomplish these priority, strategic actions and tasks. These are the first items for your new schedule. They have the most priority.
Step Five: Now schedule in your busy tasks and meetings. Since your schedule will be filling up with the priority items, you will be forced to decide really what busy tasks are important for you and what can be delegated or simply dismissed.
Step Six: Stick to the structure and make changes and adjustments to the schedule up to one month in advance as a result of and relation to your business planning, strategic planning and marketing strategies. Reprioritize at least once per month or preferably every two weeks to ensure you are tracking the most effective route for your business goals.
Step Seven: Measure results on a weekly basis and make small adjustments for the coming week as needed. Identify successes and issues and figure out how to overcome problems. Acknowledge the successes through out your company and who helped you achieve that success at the end of every week. Carry that momentum into your upcoming new week.
Good Time Management Forces Good Business Habits
Spending time on actually making out your schedule and how you will manage your time in the face of what needs to be accomplished in your company’s business plan, will create that perfect marriage between what needs to be done on a particular day for the company’s success and what other more mundane tasks need to be accomplished. If you fail to plan your schedule and lay it out by the hour and minute, then you will find yourself busied to death with tasks that you don’t know will have the necessary payoff for your company. This is the pinnacle of Strategic Thought and Planning, and the core reason why some business owners are much more effective and successful than their counterparts.
Enjoy Your Free Time
Good time management frees up your time, giving you more time to enjoy your family, more recreation, more healthy space from your company. This makes you happier and healthier, which has a huge payoff in your business. You become much more efficient and effective, cutting the necessary time to really achieve what is actually needed for your company to prosper and succeed. Get your priorities in your business right and your priorities in life get right. The payoff is better profitability and happiness. Can’t beat that! What are you waiting for? Get started today…
Today’s Video is on How Self Management Dictates Time Management
As a Business Consultant I encounter many business owners who concentrate investments into their business mostly toward marketing, advertising and product development. This concentration is premised on the thinking that these areas will contribute to the company’s bottom line. While this is partially true and businesses need this sort of re-investment to be successful, I find that most overlook the most important business investment available. By overlooking this vital investment, the pay off for the investment into marketing, advertising and product development is significantly reduced. The absolutely best investment a company can make is in its employees.
Without Good Employees, a Company is Just Throwing Its Money Away
You can pour dollars into Marketing, advertising and product development, but with out good employees to implement these vital evolutions, you are just throwing away your money. It is the employee who will bring more business in the door. The higher the quality of the employee, the improved skill set of the employee, and the happiness of the employee all add up to success for a business, making its investments into growing the company much more successful and profitable.
Concentrate First on Getting Good Employees
Before pouring your business investment cash into a robust Marketing and Advertising Campaign, or an aggressive Product Development initiative, make sure you have the right employees on board to successfully design and implement these programs. Bringing talent in house or training potential in house is a business investment that will pay ten fold when it is time to grow your business. A talented and skilled employee will obtain a far greater Return on Equity (ROE) with a mediocre product or service than an average employee with a stellar product or service.
Train Your Employees Well
I see a lot of companies who have great talent in house or acquired great talent, but their training was so mediocre that the personnel investment was simply being wasted. Well trained employees will find ways to innovate, cut costs and improve profits and profitability. Give your employees the opportunity to be a great investment for you and a bigger payoff for your ROE. You will gain the best potential out of all your employees by providing ample opportunities to receive training.
Support Education for Your Employees
Acquiring new employees can be expensive. Improve your skill and talent base by supporting education of your employees, helping them to reach higher potential, and in return, help you achieve a better return on equity. Marketing and Advertising are very expensive. Supporting the education of your employees in those areas will help you minimize those costs and get a much better ROI for those dollars spent, whether you decide to bring some of that function in house or more effectively deal with outsourced marketing and advertising groups. You can foster better innovation and product development by giving your employees incentives to go after more education. This will spawn their creativity, while making them more productive.
Treat Your Employees Well
Spend time on your Compensation and Benefits Packages. Normally if designed well, compensation and benefits packages will more than pay for themselves with the return on productivity. Also a good employee package can attract higher talent for less dollars spent. For many talented employees, it isn’t just about salary. It is about growth, stimulation, incentives, and most importantly, happiness. Think of ways to foster a great environment in your company for employees, and the payoff in company profits will be significant. Happy, well trained and skilled employees will help you attract more talented people in the future for much less investment. The company environment is what will attract them primarily with salary and compensation coming in second. Happy Employees = Productive Employees = Company Profits
When You Have Good and Happy Employees
Now is the time to make your move. Your investment into your company to grow and sustain it will be much more profitable. Innovation will soar. Creativity will spawn great product development. Enthused employees will become your best marketing and advertising channels. Your ROI and ROE will be much better allocated, giving you the opportunity to sustain growth in your business. Also, you will retain your best talent and significantly reduce your turnover rate, which can be the biggest reason why companies lose profits and fail.
So before you spend a bunch of hard earned dollars into growing your business, think about whether you have the right employees and company culture in place to make it happen for you. Also review your Executive and Management levels to ensure they will help foster employee growth and happiness. If not, make those changes first on the upper levels. This needs to be a top-down thing to be successful.
Video Resource:Finding and Retaining Good Employees
The reality behind this recession and the new economy to emerge is that customers have changed. The question is, are you ready for this new customer? Have you adapted enough during this recession period to meet the new needs and demands of customers and prepared for the new economy to come?
The economy to emerge from this recession will be different than we have ever seen and the guiding force behind it will be a new type of customer. One that has evolved during this recession into a more discerning and demanding customer. Here are some key areas to keep in mind as you develop your post recession Business Plan.
vThe customer has all the power, so your products, services, customer service and business must be built around the customer. This includes your social media strategy.
vMoney is tight and being spent in a much more cautious way, so your business must meet up with expectations, to include:
ØValue based offers. Savings are good, but how much value is built in?
ØExcellent market reputation
ØGreat customer service
ØExtraordinary products, services, customer service, savings, value, etc. Remember, extraordinary means beyond the call of duty, going the extra mile. It means really caring about the customer.
ØAre you trustworthy?
ØCan you stand extra scrutiny?
ØAre you well positioned in the social media networks?
ØDo you have a positive vibe in the social media networks?
vSpecialized products and services that meet tight customer niche needs. Customers want a high degree of customization and specialization. A product or service just for them. Highly targeted niche products and services that closely meet the needs of customers will be winners.
vCustomers will be less tolerant of companies who can not closely satisfy their needs. The new customer is quite demanding and expects nothing less than perfection from a company.
Good Business Practices
The new customer will not be hard to deal with and attract if you are running a solid business. Many of the above paradigm shift characteristics aren’t a surprise to well run businesses. Highly targeted niche marketing has always been the mantra of successful businesses, as well as, great customer service and customized solutions for customers. What is different is you will less room to mess up. Customers will be much more impatient and walk down the street if their needs aren’t closely met and, particularly, if they don’t feel important. If you run a good, tight business, which is customer oriented and niche targeted, as well as, has a great social network presence and reputation, then you will be well positioned for the new economy to emerge. If not, then now is the time to get to work because you will continue to lose customers, not just because of the recession but because the customer has changed and left you behind. This is an excellent time to consider hiring a Business Consultant to help ensure you are well positioned for the new economy to emerge and the new customer that is pushing it along.
What makes a family business unique, and quite often is the key to its Competitive Edge is its close family connections, experience and expertise.In order to sustain this unique edge, a family business needs to plan early, carefully and thoroughly so successors can be developed and groomed from the family ranks.
§Treating all family children fairly
§Reactions from non-family employees
§Family communications and conflict
§Executive and Management level organization and structure
§Determine how best to select successors:
oGroom one child from an early age to take over?
oAllow family members to compete and choose replacements and successors with the aid of the Board of Directors and/ or the Family Council?
oChoose successors without the aid of a third party?
oForm an Executive Committee of family members (3-5members)?
oAllow the children and/ or family as a whole to choose incoming leaders?
How to go about choosing future leaders and successors really is a factor of a particular family business’s history, current structure, planning, success, future growth forecasts, available resources (human, technical, strategic and financial), aspirations, goals, wishes and a host of contingent variables.The complexity of succession issues really dictates the use of an experienced Business Consultant, Attorney and Accountant to help develop and implement a successful Continuation Plan.The Business Consultant should be the quarterback of the planning process:he or she should coordinate the inputs of the current leadership, Board of Directors, Family Council, key non-family employee, legal, human resources and accounting; along with the Consultant’s experienced advice, to come up with an acceptable, flexible, successful Business Succession Plan.
A Business Consultant can be a great investment when replacement choices are limited.If faced with this challenge, a family business needs to utilize professional help to:
üAnalyze present key position assignments, responsibilities and performance to determine current capabilities and weaknesses, as well as, future succession management and leadership gaps.
üTake a Close look at the current company structure and determine if the structure needs to be modified to meet future human resource challenges.
üDo present family members need cross-training, leadership education and mentoring?Or are there key non-family employees who can fill future leadership gaps?
In order to find a solution to a leadership and management future gap threat, it is important to have sound, objective, experienced third-party professional advice and expertise at hand.Moreover, all present managers and key people, family and non-family, should be included in the decision making and planning process when replacement choices present an inherent challenge.
Business Continuation and Succession Planning
In a family enterprise, succession occurs when the family business owner/ leader/ founder passes away, becomes incapacitated, exits the company or retires.You can never start too early in planning replacements; along with succession and continuation contingency planning.Having explained the various areas and issues to consider when planning for future Company leadership and management, we will now examine the importance of Operating Authority Planning; how this authority will pass from one generation to the next when planned for, as well as, putting in place emergency, contingency authority planning when the family business’s leader and/ or top management suddenly departs.
ØSudden Departure Planning:Sudden death or incapacity in a business’s upper leadership echelon can be paralyzing if not properly planned for.It is very important to consult an experienced Certified Financial Planner, Estate Planning Attorney and Business Accountant to ensure a Business Continuation Financial Plan is in place, which sets up the necessary wills, trusts, insurances, investments and other vehicles to ensure the business can have a successful financial transition.This is often accomplished with Key Person Life Insurance and Disability Insurance.It is very important these advisors work in concert with the Company’s Business Consultant, Financial Consultant and Business Attorney so that the Business Succession and Continuation Plan link both Management & Leadership Planning with the Operational Authority Planning.
ØPlanned Departure Planning: As previously discussed, there should be a Leadership and Management Continuation Plan in place.This ensures a smooth transition and can be overseen by the Company’s Board of Directors.This Departure Plan will kick in automatically with the Operational Authority Plan if a sudden, unplanned Leadership Departure occurs.The Continuation and Succession Strategy should be implemented in stages so the existing Company leader can ensure a smooth transition.Having finances in place to take care of any dips in sales and profits during this transition is key and should be part of the plan. It is important that the outgoing Company leader can retire comfortably and has a retirement life plan in place.When it is time to go, according to the plan, the family Company leader must cleanly go and not hold on.It is time for the next generation to move the Company forward.A Certified Financial Planner and Compensation Structure Expert should be consulted to determine the best way to set up a successful Retirement Plan for outgoing family members- their retirement comfort is key toward continuing a clean break from the business.
ØSelling Stock to Family Members:A successful transition is only complete when the outgoing business leader/ owner sells his stake in the business to the remaining family members as per the Operating Authority Plan.The advantages of this type of transition are numerous:
üBusiness remains in the family.
üBusiness continues to provide a source of steady employment to family members.
üThe family’s status and stature are preserved.
üThe former owner/ leader is freed up to actually retire and travel.
üA successful successor(s) instills confidence and happiness throughout the family.
üStrengthens family bonds rather than causing additional friction and conflict.
üFuture success rewards the family very well financially.
ØSelling the Business Option:After several generations, sometimes family contracts or its members choose alternative careers and businesses.It is better to sell a successful venture than one withering and dying on the vine.This option should be included in the Operational Plan and be well thought out, utilizing the expertise of a Business Consultant, Registered Investment Advisor, Valuation Expert, Business Broker, Attorney and Accountant.If planned for properly, a business sale can be a great thing for a multi-generational family.The proceeds and resulting investments can secure future education funds, new business ventures, philanthropic organizations and other generational family interests and passions.
§Some things to consider when selling the family business:
üThe business owner/ leader ought to plan a transition period into the business sale process.An immediate retirement can reduce a Company’s attractiveness to a buyer as having the founder/ leader/ owner around during the transition is often preferable.
üUtilized Valuation Experts and Accountants to evaluate assets, project profitability and determine good will mark up, among other value determinants.A prestigious accounting firm conducting a full audit and investigator go a long way in deriving a premium sales value which is acceptable to the buyer.
üBuilding up profits, retaining earnings and instituting cash flow management strategies can go a long way to attracting good buyers.
üStructuring the deal with the family retaining a small, passive stake in the business can be very attractive to a buyer as it instills confidence in the new leader and management, while giving the family the opportunity to profit from the Company.This can also make a premium price structure more palatable to a buyer.
üShift assets to heirs to lower your basis in the business, thereby, decreasing and spreading out the tax load.
üEnsure financial records are up to date and audited with projections tending to air on the conservative side, while having realistic marketing outlooks and inherent assumptions.
üNeed to understand what you and your family members will lose from the sale and plan accordingly with your financial advisors.Things to consider:
·Pension/ Retirement Investment Plan
·Health, Life, Disability & Long-Term Care
·Company cars·Club dues
·Perks & Benefits
üTax implications can be substantial in a business sale so utilize a good tax planning firm, along with garnering advice from your Certified Financial Planner.
Tax and Estate Planning Implications
One of the biggest threats to the successful continuation and succession of family businesses are the constantly changing tax laws.Utilizing an experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Tax Attorney and Business Attorney, along with a solid Business Accounting Firm, to ensure you not only maximize present profits while minimizing your tax liability, but also successfully plan to pass your estate and business onto heirs in the most tax preference way.Some Estate Planning considerations to keep in mind while planning for business continuation and succession:
ØMajor concerns typically are the perpetuation of the business and maintaining liquidity.Without sufficient cash to pay estate taxes, heirs have little choice but to drain cash from the business when it most needs it or worse, be forced to sell it or sell many of its prized assets.
ØGood Estate Planning can:
üReduce the need for beneficiaries to remove funds from the business.
üMaintain beneficiaries’ interest stakes by keeping funds in the Company.
üProvide a smooth transition when developed in conjunction with the Management/ Leadership Strategic & Succession Plan and the Company’s Operating Authority Plan (see previous sections for more details).
ØSelling the patriarch’s / matriarch’s stake in the business, in advance of any Succession Plan implementation (whether a planned or sudden departure) to family members can be the best estate planning a family business can employ, while giving the business leader control of the Company until the agreed upon relinquishment.
ØThere are a host of structural tools which can be used to minimize estate tax liability, that should be fully explored with your Financial Advisory Team, such as:
§Limited Liability Corporations
§Family Limited Partnerships
§Share holder Buy/ Sell Agreements
ØCritically Important:Establishing a valuation of the business which is in compliance with IRS regulations is critically important.Overvaluing, as well as, undervaluing a business for tax purposes can both be highly expensive mistakes.This is why having an excellent Tax & Financial Team of Advisors in place is absolutely essential.
Not everything can be planned for, but if you adopt the strategies prescribed in this article, which are commonly unique to a family enterprise, running and managing the successful family business is significantly improved, while ensuring successful next generation business continuation and succession.Family Businesses have a unique set of Competitive Advantages, which if planned for, can be used to exploit new markets and ensure future profitability and success.In the end, if you, the family business owner / founder / leader successfully plan, build and manage the family enterprise, you will need to give up control and ultimately ownership in your cherished accomplishment.If built well, the family business will continue to reflect the leader’s / founder’s ambition, innovation, initiative, entrepreneurship, character, values, integrity, ethics; all those things in testament to hard work and perseverance.This is the legacy of the business, clearing the way for future generations.
Children may not automatically want to be part of the family business.Sometimes children who have grown up in the business become bored, uninterested or lack the desire and drive necessary to successfully run the business in the future.They may actually take the business for granted, assuming it will always be there for them. Understanding this going in, a family business can more effectively plan for generational issues in the growth and future of the business.
Preparing the Next Generation
The questions to ask are:Why do children join a family business?What are their motivations?
– To Influence the Family:This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the kid’s underlying motivations.A Family Business should foster a mission which positively influences family members, not provide ammo for the children to attack each other.Positive Influences include:
§Family Education Fund/ Emphasis on Continuing Education
§Foster an Atmosphere of Openness & Learning
§Set good examples for kids to aspire toward
§Ingrain the values of Business Integrity and Ethical Responsibility
§Foster & Promote Civic Duty
§Promote & Support Community Volunteer Work, Projects and Board representation
– To Help the Family Succeed:Success for the Family Business should translate to the success of the Family.Future generations can have better lives, pursue their passions and be happier if part of a cohesive team striving for a better future for the entire family- not just those in the business.
– An Opportunity to Further one’s Career:It isn’t necessary for every family member to remain with the business.Family members should be encouraged to pursue their passions, and the family business can be the proving grounds, the incubator, for family who want to pursue other careers or possible spin off another related business.Often, children find that after working for other companies early in their careers, the Family Business is a great career destination, allowing them to reach their full potential and constructively apply their expertise and experience.
– Like the Family Business:Having a passion for the industry and business the family enterprise occupies is often a major reason why family members join the Company.What also plays into this is the requirement to work outside the Company to gain expertise and experience.When the family member returns to the family business, there is inherent respect for the opportunity given and the successful growth history of their predecessors before them.Having a firm understanding of what makes the family business special and unique creates a strong loyalty and passion for it.
– The Challenge:If family members worked in the family business from a young age, were taught the value of a dollar, went off to college and to work for an outside Company for a several year period, then returning to the family enterprise can be a fantastic challenge to pursue.For this reason, it is important the family business provides qualified family members with a real growth opportunity, a challenge to inspire drive, loyalty and passion in their career maturation.
–Sense of Duty and Responsibility:Some of the older children in the family’s next generations may feel the duty and responsibility to serve their family interests and ensure future succession success of the business.This becomes apparent after the younger children become involved in the Company and sometimes the older child moves onto another career since his or her passion was extinguished by the stress and forbearance of fiduciary responsibility.Or, it is sometimes the older children who spin off a subsidiary or new Company after feeling they have accomplished their role in the Company.It is important to encourage the family’s children to pursue their passions, no matter what industry, and gain outside experience; however, sometimes it is a necessity to have the older child assume responsibilities early on if resources are scarce in the Company’s particular Growth Stage.
– To Make Money:While this is often the number one reason family members join the family business, it is closely followed by the “Liking the Business” category.This relationship certainly makes sense:making money is a major requirement of any career but it is strongly linked to liking what you are doing, the passion factor.A well-prepared family business provides ample growth opportunities for family members to nurture their passion and be well rewarded for it through a competitive Compensation Package.
Considerations when planning and preparing for the next Generation in a Family Business
§When family members are young, have them work on simple jobs on a part-time basis.oThis provides insights into the business, helps them understand the business from the bottom up, gives them a strong work ethic and encourages them to pursue and finish higher education.
§Work for an outside Company after graduating from college to broaden training and background.oIf the family members worked in the lower ranks of the business before and during high school and during the summers in his/her college years, then outside experience can justify moving a family member into a higher position level upon entering back into the business.
§Some tips when preparing for the next generation to join the Company:
oNever allow a family member to work in senior management until that member has worked for someone else for a few years.
oRotate the family member throughout different positions to cross train, as well as, pinpoint interests and skills.oPromotions only come when earned, just like everyone else in the Company.
oDevote time every day, preferably over breakfast, for face-to-face mentoring, teaching and training.
oDon’t take business issues and matters back home.
oReward the family member with responsibility so he or she can learn to manage the business in order to potentially take over or have executive level responsibilities in the future.
oMake sure the family member knows you trust him or her.
oAllow them to make mistakes and fail; give them room to grow and learn.Help them when asked; give them autonomy.
Next Generation Issues and Solutions
Here are some common main generational issues characteristic to family business operations and how to effectively deal with them.
– The Business Owner Who Won’t Delegate:A very common problem in family enterprises is the owner or CEO who can’t let go.Many owners have a strong personal connection to the business which prevents them from allowing next generations to assume more responsibility in the business.
§The second generations are “entrepreneur successors” in training and the business owner patriarch or matriarch should be very careful not to stifle that passion and drive.
§An inherent attitude that an owner’s or founder’s shoes cannot be filled is common in a family business; therefore, it is vitally important to the future continuation of the business for a clear path toward ascendancy for the next generation be established through training, mentoring and delegation of responsibility.
§Best Advice:Hire a Business Consultant to help you work through these issues in order to develop a clear ascendancy plan that is fair, yet, challenging.Establish clear goals and expectations so next generation family members can strive to attain goals and career growth, without stifling their passions and drive.The Business Consultant can bring valuable experience and objectivity to this often controversial issue.
– Next Generation Gaining Acceptance, Respect and Credibility:If a family member has worked from the bottom up during their formative years, gone off to college to earn their business related degree(s) and gained valuable expertise and experience working for an outside firm, give him or her the respect they deserve.
§Next generation members will work hard in the business if they are praised, encouraged and accepted as equals.
§Be careful not to set expectations too high, they should be in line with the family member’s training, education, personality, skills and experience.
§A next generation member should express strong interest in the family business so the family knows of his or her passion, drive and interest level.
§The next generation member should know what their capabilities are and communicate that clearly to the family owner(s).
§A next generation family member should conduct a self-analysis of goals and skills:oWhat are my strengths and weaknesses?oWhat areas do I need to work on or need help on?
oWhat other parts of the business do I need to learn about?
oWhat are my leadership qualities?Are they sufficient?
oWhat training, mentoring and continuing education do I need to fulfill a leadership role in the family business?
oAm I happy working in the family business?
§Three Stage Training Program for Family members joining the business:
oStage 1:Initial learning stage to fully understand all the aspects and divisions of the Company:Cross-Training.
oStage 2:Specialization in a particular skill.
oStage 3:Become a generalist, learn to manage, motivate and lead.Need to have strong strategic Management Skills.
§The next generation should have mentoring relationships not just with the family founder/ owner/ CEO but also with experienced business people in their industry, preferably one from other family enterprises.Long-term development mentoring support is a vital component in a next generation member’s growth.
§As previously discussed, a next generation family member should work outside the family business as this will increase his or her knowledge, experience, confidence, and most importantly, enhance credibility with family and non-family employees alike.
Family Businesses can have their unique set of issues and conflicts. Having policies and systems in place to handle these typical hurdles can make running a family business a lot more effective and profitable.
Family Business Issues
ØFamily members go straight to the top, head family position, skipping protocol and the organization’s structure.
ØPersonality clashes and unrestrained emotional reactions among family members can cause inefficient operations and make it a hard environment to recruit talent.
ØLines of authority and adherence to an organizational structure, with responsibilities clearly defined, should be firmly established and separate from the family’s personal authority lines.
ØDue to the nature of a family business, the number of competent family members from whom to choose managers can be limited.Therefore, it is important for the family business to ensure family members obtain the necessary experience and skills to assume management or find suitable outside-the –family managers.This issue speaks to the next section in this article, Next Generation Preparations, so we will expand on it subsequent.
ØFamily businesses must fight the common phenomenon of maintaining the status quo.Just like any healthy, growing business, company leadership and management should keep up with the times and not be complacent with past successes.Planning, Market Trending, Training, RE-Training and Continuing Education are incredibly important for a family enterprise, as complacency is a common challenge as the Company matures.
ØFamily Management Gaps can be a touchy issue as family companies are often run and managed by family members.However, if a qualified family member is not available for a post, it is important to fill the management position with someone outside the family who has ample experience and history with the Company and the family members.Bringing in outside Professional Managers can be a mistake as they can alienate suitable non-family employees and lack an established relationship with the family members in the business.Only hire outside management if no qualified alternatives exist within the Company.
Family Business Conflicts
Family businesses are naturally pre-disposed to conflict so it is very important to establish firm ground rules and roles:
ØDefine responsibilities and accountability clearly.
ØAssign jobs and positions relative to experience, training, skills, capabilities and interests.
§If jobs and positions aren’t clearly defined and respected, you often have siblings performing similar jobs or have over-lapping responsibilities, causing unhealthy competition and a constant vying for attention toward parents and authority positioned family members.Additionally, clicks can form within a family company which is counter-productive, causing unnecessary strife and conflict.
§Family Businesses should work with a Business Consultant to develop, design and implement a fair and firm organizational structure which promotes professionalism and shuns clicks and in-fighting.
ØKeep emotions out of the decision making processes in a family business.Be sure you are fighting the issues, not the emotions or personality conflicts.Discussing and agreeing to plans prior to major Company changes and events take place fosters a professional environment of respect and cooperation.Keep the personal family business where it belongs, at home.Again, an experienced Business Consultant can be very useful in this area to assist in developing business rules, regulations and protocols, along with, decision making structures and processes.Additionally, it is important to develop structures, policies and rules to guide non-family employees and interactions between family and non-family employees.Non-family employees often feel alienated and unimportant if these accountability, responsibility and organizational systems, processes and structures aren’t clearly defined and effectively implemented and adopted throughout the Company.
Form a Family Council.This council should be composed entirely of family members who are key to the future of the business and have significant interest in the business.The Council should have clear and open communications.Family members should feel free to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas.This forum ought to foster understanding and trust among family members, addressing and fixing issues which develop as the business matures and grows.It is the vehicle to develop and put in motion Company plans; particularly the business’s Long-Term Strategic Plan.The council should provide the Company Strong Strategic Direction, Objectives, Goals, Milestones and Performance Standards.
The Council can be headed by the Company’s Chairman (if a family member) so the board of Directors has a true understanding of the Company’s long term direction and growth goals.While the Council takes in consideration all Key family members’ inputs and opinions, it is not’s necessary to have 100% family participation on its Board.The Family Enterprise’s Board of Directors should contain the top family executives (Chairman and President/ CEO, etc.); however, it should also consist of non-family members to ensure objectivity, different viewpoints and experience levels.The Council is for family discussions and providing strategic direction to the Board, which in turn, contains a mix of family and non-family alike.
A Family Business can be tricky when determining compensation for the family while ensuring it is fair across the board for the company as a whole. Compensation and profit sharing can be difficult issues as some family members believe they contribute to the overall success of the business more than others in the family.Here are some helpful tips when considering compensation levels:
vCompensation should be based on job performance, experience, contribution and skills, not family position.
vBenefits are useful financial incentives and rewards, but it is very important family benefits conform to those given to non-family employees.
vStock Plans, Deferred Profit-Sharing Plans, Pension Plans and Stock Purchase Programs can be very effective in placating unhappy family members. These type of Plans also do not hamper cash-flows significantly, so profitability is maintained, yet has the synergistic effect of attracting, holding and pulling family members together.
vOften Family Members are given a Managerial title and role but be careful not to show favoritism.If a family member does not have the qualifications to be a manager, then for the sake of the business and employee relations, the family member should be given a position which matches his/ her experience level.
vThere should be a double standard when analyzing a family member employee and non-family member employee.The family member should be held at a higher standard and be required to work up the ranks of the Company.This way the family member does not take the position for granted, sets a good example and is highly qualified for management when that time comes.While gaining experience with another outside Company is recommended and beneficial for family members, they should enter the family business on a level which gives them a firm understanding of the entire Company and how it works.Once the family member has cross-trained in the Company’s various departments, gaining invaluable insight into Company operations, an appropriate position and title can be assigned and rewarded.
Family Business account for over 80% of all US businesses, contribute 50% of our Gross National Product and provide half our workforce.However only about 10% of family businesses make it to the third generation due to the unique challenges family companies encounter.
Starting a Venture with your Family…
There are certain advantages to starting a family venture:
üInitial costs and losses are easily shared.
üLater success benefits the family as a whole.
üEnables the family to be together.
üFamily may trust each other more than outsiders.
However, there are many challenges which come up during a start-up venture that need to beaddressed:
ØTips for Spouses jointly running and starting a business:
üFollow business rules; romance is for non-business hours.
üClearly define each spouse’s role.
üAccentuate each other’s talents.
üKeep business and personal life separate- understand the inherent conflicts of interest.
üSet strong ground rules and understand you won’t always agree.
üDefine your expectations specifically and clearly.
üSet aside family time.
üInvolve young family members in the business for fun, short tasks and jobs.
üHave a system for recognizing and rewarding hard work and accomplishments of family members.
ØUnderstand clearly what the business relationships of Family Members are.
ØHave a solid Business Plan which clearly defines the company structure, responsibilities, roles, strategic direction and so forth.
ØClearly identify who is the lead entrepreneur.
ØIdentify the strengths and weaknesses of each family member.
ØUnderstand each family member’s business experience and background.
ØEstablish how much money each family member will contribute.
ØAgree up front how equity will be divided.
ØHonest and clear communication between family members.
ØProfessional, business environment and structure.
ØHow and where non-family will be incorporated into the venture.
If You Join an Early Stage Family Venture…
Advantages for family members joining a new family venture are numerous:
üFamily can help and are inexpensive during the development period.
üFamily wants the opportunity to help the business as it benefits the family as a whole.
üFlexible hours, days and pay are attractive to family member initially, using minimum resources.
üThe business brings family back together.
üFamily members join the family venture because they are frustrated with their current work place and environment.
Issues to consider for an early stage family Venture:
ØLargely interpersonal issues.Experience role reversals.
ØResentment can build if a family member isn’t adequately challenged and rewarded.
ØIssues concerning power, rivalry and jealousy are common between family members.
ØTake in consideration a family member’s personal interest, skills, experience and training when assigning areas of responsibility.
ØDefine, exactly, each family member’s area of responsibility.
ØDefine who each family member is accountable to, as well as, for.
ØDetermine compensation structures- salary, bonus and equity stakes.
ØHow will a disagreement be handled?
ØWhat will be done if a family is not contributing?
ØIf a family member wants out, what is the buyout plan and continuation plan?
ØAre you going to allow family members to be non-participating, passive investors in the business?
Best Advice:Defining upfront the various rules, expectations and structure unique to a family business is vital for its success.These unique requirements need to be well developed and delineated in the Company Business Plan and continually discussed in periodic family meetings. This way, every family member feels they are vital and contributing to the overall strategic direction and future of the family venture.
Joining a Family Company As a Mature Business…
This can be the biggest challenge for a family member:Where do I fit in a Family Business which has been in operation for a period of time and/or for successive generations?
Some characteristics and challenges to consider for a later stage/ mature family business:
ØHaving a policy that everyone starts at the bottom and works his or her way up through the ranks no matter their experience level, can initially set back family members joining the existing enterprise.However, they will soon realize it is very important not to show favoritism between family members and non-family employees.This nips in the bud issues of favoritism, entitlement, jealousy and resentment.
ØFamily members can sometimes be transient, interim or temporary employees to help during seasonal demand, a particularly tough business environment or during high growth periods.This phenomenon can increase spirit de corps, but it can also cause strife.Again, having family meetings to decide such matters and ensuring the majority is on board with bringing in temporary family help, is critically important.
ØSome family members may use the business as a stepping stone on a career path or starting their own venture.Planning for this potential loss and contingency should be part of every family business’s Management Plan.Also, establishing non-compete rules upfront and protecting the proprietary nature of the business if a family member moves on should also be part of the Company’s Planning Structure.
ØThe issue of the family successor is huge in a mature family enterprise.How will a family business choose its next successor?Is there room for the next generation?What are the expansion options for family members?Is the Company growing enough to support new family blood?Does the current management structure and style permit the flexibility and latitude the next generation seeks?This all speaks to the importance of having well developed; family- contributed Business Planning in order to maintain successive-success for future generations.This phenomenon becomes more urgent and important in maturing family operations.We deal with this future outlook issue in subsequent section in detail, along with conflicts, limitations and issues faced by a family enterprise.
Advantages a mature stage family business enjoys are numerous, but the following are common, and often, keys to success:
üEach family member is contributing to the overall benefit of the entire family.
üFamily members can enjoy making and reaching goals together
üBe a member of a very special team which is very close knit.
üEveryone pitches in to do the hard work- getting things done, that “need doing”.
üFamily teamwork translates into identifiable and quantifiable progress.
üA feeling among family that is “our business”.It is “what we do”.It is all about ownership and legacy.
üSpecial attitude shared by family members pushes them to work hard for the success of the business.
üBringing in new life, new skills and added experience into the maturing business.
üMature family companies often have and keep market advantage and competitive edge as new generations often ensure the company doesn’t stagnate.
Frank Goley interview about Business Success in a Post-Recession Economy
Business Success Books
"As a result of Frank’s advice, our newly developed website, and the ongoing internet marketing and SEO campaign, we have seen great results, including: our energy monitor product sales have doubled, our solar system business is on track for a banner year with a three-fold increase, our targeted website visitors have increased 1,500%, and our Bounce Rate is an incredibly low 5%! If you want someone to maximize your company’s profitability and increase sales, Frank is the guy to call." – Randy Velker, Owner, Simple Energy Works
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– Randy Velker, Owner, Simple Energy Works
“How do you align your resources, your team, your partners, and your vision for success if you don’t have a common goal or a roadmap to reach it? Of course you have a business plan, but odds are it died a long time ago, relegated to a dusty drawer. If your business plan is not a living, breathing, and valued document; the daunting task of aligning your business is made all the more difficult by the vast array of conflicting agendas in your organization. Frank Goley brings a simple and straightforward approach to building and maintaining an active business plan - that roadmap for success- upon which your organization can align its efforts. He is an engaging speaker / presenter / consultant who has also written an excellent guide which can help any organization navigate the process of ...
“I'm working on a thesis concerning strategies about Business Turnaround, and I find your E-Books to be very helpful, especially "Small Business Recession Tactics" and "Saving a Business in Trouble". I would appreciate if you gave me your permission to make a reference on these E-Books for my thesis work. Thank you very much for your help!” -- Margarita Economidou,
Open University of Cyprus.
“After spending some time on the ABC Business Consulting website, I immediately was impressed with the vast array of information and resources that is available, especially the wide range of E-Books which Frank Goley makes available for FREE. Frank is a professional consultant who I highly recommend.” -- Arthur Rego, President, AER Enterprises (Bermuda)
"I was very pleased with my business plan. Frank Goley was there for me every step of the process and willing to help me with anything. Besides being very patient with me, they were also very quick to respond. ABC Business Consulting made my idea come to life. I will definitely do business with them again." -- Anthony Alvarez, Restaurateur
“Not only did Frank work closely with me to development these strategies, but he has also implemented these strategies into real world solutions which reflect the strategic direction of my company. The comprehensive planning, consulting and implementation approach ABC Business Consulting offers is quite unique in the marketplace, and I have found it incredibly useful in defining the direction my company needs to take to be successful in this economy and beyond. Thanks Frank for all the help and advice. I look forward to a long term and successful relationship with ABC Business Consulting.” – Randy Velker, Owner, Simple Energy Works
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"We started with an idea that we felt would better the citizens of the surrounding communities. So we began to get acquainted with the local entrepreneurs, to find out how they started, and how their vision and dream became the success that it is today. Everyone’s success story started out the same way, they had an excellent business plan. So we started working on our business plan, and after months of trying to develop it, we knew we were in over our head. We turned to the internet and spoke with company after company about developing our business plan with the same outcome: a lot of money! ABC Business Consulting not only offered reasonable pricing, but also Frank took the time to examine and explain every aspect of our up and coming business to make sure we understood what we were ...
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Development and implementation of a Business Plan, Marketing Plan and Strategic Plan
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Search Engine Optimization
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– Randy Velker ...
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The Profit Puzzle
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– Randy Velker, Owner, Simple Energy Works
“Frank, I reviewed the information you provided regarding business turnarounds. I was impressed by the level of detail and the elements that dealt with the leadership qualities of the business turnaround consultant and team. I have reviewed a great deal of literature on the topic and have interviewed a number of turnaround experts. Few have addressed the level of detail that you have provided and none have addressed the requisite qualities of the turnaround team. Thanks again for providing this information!” -- Dan Anderson, MBA, CBA, Director,
Small Business Development Center
, Helena, MT
"I read this blog post, and I really appreciate this content: Business Trade Credit and Debt Finance. Thanks for useful information." -- John
“Moreover, Frank re-worked and developed new content for the website, then optimized the content for the search engines. In as little as a few days, my website has already starting ranking as a result of Frank’s content and search engine optimization work on the website. Frank also came up with the idea to have a Solar Case Studies section on the website, which proves out how solar energy systems make a lot of financial sense, and it adeptly showcases our expertise in designing and installing solar systems.”
– Randy Velker, Owner, Simple Energy Works
"Thank you Frank Goley for sharing such an interesting article on Real Time Search and Social Media Convergence with links to search engine optimization tactics and suggesting strategies and techniques to support our business’s marketing goals." -- Christiane Lavanoux, I Game Attitude LLC co-Founder and co-President / Certified Life Coach
“Frank, I reviewed the information you provided regarding business turnarounds. I was impressed by the level of detail and the elements that dealt with the leadership qualities of the business turnaround consultant and team. I have reviewed a great deal of literature on the topic and have interviewed a number of turnaround experts. Few have addressed the level of detail that you have provided and none have addressed the requisite qualities of the turnaround team. Thanks again for providing this information!” -- Dan Anderson, MBA, CBA, Director,
Small Business Development Center, Helena, MT
"I would like to thank you Mr. Goley for making the extra effort with my business plan. The world of business is cut throat and the slightest misstep by an inexperienced entrepreneur can lead to a good idea becoming a waste of time and energy. Mr. Goley has the expertise and knowledge that allows for your great idea to become a great business. He told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted, as well as, pointing me in the right direction for my future business endeavors." -- Foster Fox, Entrepreneur
“Frank Goley's presentation on strategic business planning was very informative and will be of great help to our firm as we work through a new business plan.” -- Ryan Martin, Director of Business Development,
"I own a premiere event planning and marketing company based in New York City. I've had the pleasure to work with Frank Goley on many projects that I have for my many businesses. He is fast, reliable and very good at what he does. Because I own several companies and websites, I always need excellent content, articles, sales letters, etc. I’ve worked with a ton of writers over the years, but Frank is by far the best!!! I definitely recommend Frank to any business." -- Mario Stewart, President,
"Hello Frank, It is always a pleasure to read your articles. Your expertise is obvious and makes the work seem so easy, yet I agree with you mastering all these techniques takes a lot of time and experience building. This is why your services are so valuable. Thank you for sharing such solid and helpful content. Today we also want to thank you for your awesome presence by our side. Today you are our featured person on our page. Happy New Year Frank, we wish you continued abundance in all its forms! To your continued fabulous success." -- Christiane Lavanoux and Mary Margaret White-Levilain, Life Coaches
"Hello Frank, Thank you for reminding us of how essential credibility is and how an intelligent use of Testimonials can do wonders in promoting our business. The more visible we become through multiple marketing pipelines that we implement on an ongoing basis, the more business we will generate." -- To your continued success, Christiane Lavanoux, I Game Attitude LLC co-Founder and co-President / Certified Life Coach
"At the beginning I thought I knew everything about developing a business plan for small and medium size businesses, but when I found ABC Business Consulting to help me prepare this plan, it was a totally different learning experience for me, as this firm showed me that it required a professional staff like ABC Business Consulting to put this plan together with me. I have learned a lot by exchanging ideas and information with ABC and developing my business skills.
I thank Frank from ABC Business Consulting for all his help, advice and finally his patience with me as they are very quick in response and completed my Business Plan in time. Well done and great job! I highly recommend ABC Business Consulting and their services." -- Ali Al-Jazairi, Yas Marine (Business Plan Level IV Client)
"The ABC Business Consulting Group has created a great master list and guide to creating a full business plan. The guide includes not only section headings for a business plan, but they have also created a great series of guiding questions around each one of these subsections. My recommendation is spend the US$20 and download a copy and keep as a planning companion." -- Mark Robotham,
Growth Management Consulting Ltd
“Frank, thank you for a very good program and presentation. The Evansville Executive Forum enjoyed your talk, and it provoked a lot of conversation about their use or none use of business plans. Again, thank you. -- Jack Barner,
University of Evansville, Vice President for Institutional Advancement
"One of the keys to succeeding in the art of social media placement is good copy. Good copy is a combination of affordability, creativity, and timeliness. Frank Goley delivers all three without fanfare or fuss." -- Allan Matthews, Owner,
FYI Media Services
"We really needed help with our business plan writing. We actually did not think Frank Goley was going to have time to respond to our request but he did. Although our business plan was in its initial draft version, Frank was honest to point out that the business plan needed a lot of work. At a high level, Frank suggested the following to be considered:
Follow the SBA guidelines
Strong marketing research and analysis
We certainly appreciate Frank for contributing his time and effort to help us with the most important stage of our business formation – writing the business plan. Thanks again for all the help." -- BB
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